Rethinking
Computer Science
Education
Deepak Kumar
Bryn Mawr College
[email protected]
Bryn Mawr College
Agenda
• Enrollments are down ~50% since 2000-01
• Interest in CS has sharply declined
• Gender gap has grown (fewer women)
• CS Curricula have inherent and explicit biases that deter
people from CS
• The context of computing has changed
• Current efforts to redesign CS1/CS2 curricula.
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Crisis: Enrollment
Enrollments in Computer Science
(PhD-granting Programs)
From: CRA Taulbee Survey Report 2005-06, March 6, 2007.
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Crisis: Interest in CS
Freshman
interest in
Computer
Science has
been declining.
From: Low Interest in CS and CE Among Incoming Freshmen, CRA Bulletin, 2/6/2007.
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Crisis: Gender
From: Computer Science Bachelor’s Degrees Granted to Women, CRA Bulletin, April 5, 2006.
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Why so few women?
• Female disinterest is not genetic, nor accidental, nor
inherent to computer science.
• Largely due to three factors:
 Early childhood gender socialization (home)
 A combination of adolescence, peer relationships, computer
game design, and secondary school social pressures
 Female orientation towards (and concerns about) computing are
different from the design of most computer science curricula
From: Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, Margolis & Fisher, MIT Press 2002.
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Inherent & explicit biases…
• In CS there is an inherent obsession for finding
the most efficient procedures, or creating the
fastest computers. This naturally appeals to the
male stereotype.
• CS Curricula have been designed to “invite”
only those students who can survive the
challenge.
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An Appeal?
“Whereas in the past we created obstacles to
reduce the number of CS majors, today we must
recruit students to have the workforce needed to
meet the challenges and opportunities of
information technology in this century. We
should take advantage of the reduced pressures
from the dip in enrollments to revamp our
curriculum.”
Prof. David Patterson, President of the Association for Computing Machinery,
in Communications of the ACM, March 2006.
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Exhibit A
“Whereas in the past we created obstacles to
reduce the number of CS majors, today we must
recruit students to have the workforce needed to
meet the challenges and opportunities of
information technology in this century. We
should take advantage of the reduced pressures
from the dip in enrollments to revamp our
curriculum.”
Prof. David Patterson, President of the Association for Computing Machinery,
in Communications of the ACM, March 2006.
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Exhibit B
A CS1
programming
assignment.
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Exhibit B
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Myths?
• CS has a nerd image
• CS degree leads to high stress and low
job prospects
• CS has no positive impact on the world
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But…
• Salary.com/CNN Money Best Jobs in
America reported Software Engineer as
the #1 job.
• Additionally the job of Computer/IT Analyst
appears at #7.
From: Tara Kalwarski, Daphne Mosher, Janet Paskin and Donna Rosato, 50 Best jobs in America, Money Magazine, May 1, 2006.
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Just so you know…
1. Software Engineer
2. College Professor
3. Financial Advisor
4. Human Resources Manager
5. Physician’s Assistant
6. Market Research Analyst
7. Computer/IT Analyst
8. Real Estate Appraiser
9. Pharmacist
10. Psychologist
!!
From: Tara Kalwarski, Daphne Mosher, Janet Paskin and Donna Rosato, 50 Best jobs in America, Money Magazine, May 1, 2006.
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Back to the crisis…
“While it is true that economy has forced
the issue, Computer Science curriculum
has never been attractive. It is designed
for the sole purpose of producing software
engineers.”
“We should aim for more outcomes from a
Computer Science curriculum.
Programming is only part of the story.”
—Mark Guzdial
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The context of computing
“I think there is a world market for about five
Computers.”
— Unconfirmed remark attributed to Thomas J. Watson (Chairman of the
Board of International Business Machines), 1943.
“Today, there are more computers than people
on your campus.”
— Deepak Kumar, 2007.
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Curriculum Design Patterns
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Participate in freshman seminars
Multiple entry-points
Lost of interdisciplinary electives
Humanizing core courses
Design of everyday lecture artifacts
Breaking rigid boundaries
Less is more in every course
Flexibility in designing a major/minor
Majors in emerging disciplines
Diversify faculty course load distribution
From: Patterns of Curriculum Design, Douglas Blank and Deepak Kumar,
Informatics Curricula and Teaching Methods, Edited by Lillian Cassel and Ricardo Reis, Kluwer Academic Press, 2003.
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Rethinking CS Curricula
• To attract more students to computing we need
to create more on-ramps (entry points) into the
curriculum.
• Make the curriculum requirements more flexible.
(GeorgiaTech’s Threads model, for example)
• Create several CS1 courses to attract students
with diverse interests in computing: web, multimedia, games, freakanomics, robotics…
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IPRE
IPRE: Institute for Personal Robots in Education
Goals: To explore the use of personal robots
People: Tucker Balch, Douglas Blank, Mark
Guzdial, Deepak Kumar
Website: www.roboteducation.org
Partners:
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IPRE’s CS1 Initiative
• Design personal robots for teaching CS1.
• Let the needs of the curriculum drive the
design of the robot.
• Contextualize learning in the real world.
• Make programming a social activity.
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A Personal Robot Kit
• 3 Light sensors
• 2 IR proximity
sensors
• 2 Line sensors
• Stall sensor
• Speaker
• 3 LEDs
• 2 motors
• Bluetooth wireless
• Myro Python
Module
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Myro: Background
• Based on our work on Pyro: Python Robotics
• Basic robot features are abstracted and made
independent of underlying hardware and drivers.
• Sensing: reports values in user-selected units (e.g.,
range: mm, cm, inches, robot).
• Motor commands are abstracted independent of robot’s
drive mechanism: translate, rotate, etc.
• Easy to program all kinds of behaviors and control
paradigms that will run on any robot.
See: Blank, Kumar, Meeden, Yanco: The Pyro Toolkit for AI and Robotics AI Magazine, Spring 2006.
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Myro: Features
• Simple, easy to use API even for nonprogrammers.
• Seemlessly integrated with standard Python.
• Plans to work with MSRS and .NET (will support
multiple languages).
• Design driven by curricular goals.
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Myro: Example
# Avoiding Obstacles
from myro import *
initialize(ask(“What port?”))
# program settings...
cruiseSpeed = 0.6
turnSpeed = 0.5
def main():
while True:
L, R = getIR()
if L:
turnRight(turnSpeed)
elif R:
turnLeft(turnSpeed)
else:
forward(cruiseSpeed)
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CS1:Course Contents
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Chapter 1 The World of Robots
Chapter 2 Robots: Personal or Otherwise
Chapter 3 Building Brains
Chapter 4 Sensing the World
Chapter 5 Making Decisions
Chapter 6 Behaviors
Chapter 7 Control Paradigms
Chapter 8 Making Music
Chapter 9 Communication
Chapter 10 Artificial Intelligence
Chapter 11 Computing & Computation
Chapter 12 Games: Soccer anyone?
Chapter 13 Social Robots & Entertainment
Chapter 14 Swarms
Chapter 15 Robot Ethics
Chapter 16 Smart Appliances
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Programming as a social activity
This is Video#1
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A CS1 Assignment…
Corral Exiting/Escape
Imagine a corral (an enclosed area with
maze like partitions and an entrance)
with a light source at the entrance (as
shown in the figure to the right). Given
the robot's position, can we design a
behavior that will enable the robot to
exit the corral?
This is video#2
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Comments?
• For more information see
www.roboteducation.org
• Or e-mail:
[email protected]
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Rethinking CS Education - Bryn Mawr Computer Science